the demand for anti-ageing products and procedures is insatiable, with millions of pounds spent annually in bids to stop the clock. However, with growing concern about the extreme look of Botox (ie, freakishly static or permanently surprised) and other fillers, as well as the risks involved with repeated injections, many are looking to solutions such as acupuncture - dubbed the natural facelift.
Like traditional acupuncture, a practitioner inserts small needles into pressure points in your face. This helps improve blood flow to the area, tightening muscles and prompting a more youthful appearance. Practitioners claim facial acupuncture is especially effective for smile lines, frown lines, crow's feet, and eye bags.
After a few sessions, devotees claim eyes brighten, skin feels firmer, spots disappear, and lips become plumper. And all this can achieve better, more natural results without the serious recovery time involved with a standard facelift.
Experts explain that facial acupuncture stimulates the cells to lay down new collagen fibres under wrinkles, helping fill them in, and the needles relax muscles, which combats sagging. It also helps to reduce puffiness caused by excess fluids, stimulates your lymphatic system, shrinks age spots, and boosts your immune system.
Results aren't as dramatic as a regular facelift, but that's almost the point. The process is gradual, like the build up of a fake tan that leaves you looking glowing, rather than as if you've been tangoed. No drugs are necessary, so risks are minimised. A minimum of 10 regular sessions of up to 30 minutes each are recommended, followed by monthly top-ups to maintain the benefits for three to five years, depending on the severity of your initial wrinkles - so this does mean it's more time-consuming than a quarterly Botox appointment.
Acupuncture has been a staple of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for more than 5000 years and is based on the premise that your entire body is regulated by your flow of energy, or qi and health problems are due to energy blockages around your body. However, traditionalists do point out that while facial acupuncture works by making energy circulate properly around your face, energy really needs to circulate properly around your entire body.
In TCM, the lung corresponds to the metal element and rules the skin. Being the uppermost organ, the lung is considered fragile and is referred to as the canopy or the tender organ because it's susceptible to external influences such as wind, cold, heat, and damp - all staples of the Scottish summer. Defensive qi or wei qi is said to protect the skin from climatic changes, such as the heat of UV rays, and circulates under the skin, in between muscles.
Wei qi warms and moistens the skin, preventing dehydration, and helps open your pores. Weak wei qi can therefore give rise to skin problems and many of the signs of ageing people try to combat.
Before a facial acupuncture treatment begins, a practitioner will take a detailed medical history, both physical and mental, as well as ask questions about your lifestyle - because the process is about whole-body rejuvenation. Then they will take your pulse, inspect your tongue and feel your stomach to determine if you have any energy blockages that prevent your skin from glowing. The main culprits are, unsurprisingly, stress, working long, erratic hours, and squinting at the computer and television. Then your cheeks will be pinched gently and needles will be inserted with a tapping motion.
Now, for all those with a needle phobia, don't fret. I had regular acupuncture done for the first time recently to help deal with my back pain and I was dreading having needles put in. However, they're so fine it really made me feel quite silly for having avoided them for so long.
In facial acupuncture, needles will generally be inserted into your forehead (to energise you), your chin, your ears, and around your eye area - but not too close to your actual eyes. Some people report feeling very relaxed during their treatment, while others feel as though they've been suddenly energised.
Not all acupuncturists offer facial acupuncture, so do your research and ring round several reputable practices, asking how often they do it and what their track record is. They should be open and honest about the procedure and not be trying a hard sell on you, because not everyone is suitable for facial acupuncture.
If you have high blood pressure, diabetes, a heart condition, a pituitary disorder, or are pregnant, then you should consult your GP beforehand.
Original Source: Sunday Herald, Scotland; http://www.inboxrobot.com/news.php?fid=128080003